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Best Ways to Pack a Suitcase –- 2021 Ultimate Travel Guide

Best Ways to Pack a Suitcase –- 2021 Ultimate Travel Guide

While we might not be ready to get on an airplane just yet, due to COVID restrictions and safety, that doesn’t mean we can’t pack up a suitcase to go on a road trip. Whether it’s just with your immediate household members or a few friends that you’ve bubbled with, sometimes it’s good to get away for mental/emotional health.  

So, you’ve booked the AirBnB and found some outfits that you feel good about. After hours of maneuvering, rolling and perhaps even sitting on the suitcase trying to get the zipper to close, you realize you may need a better system. 

Never fear, Zulily is here! We’ve got some awesome tips and tricks for the best way to pack a suitcase to keep all your items organized with minimal wrinkles. We’ll also share our hacks to make room for everything you’ll want to bring, but may never wear (hey, everyone needs options!) 

Good to Have

Packing Cubes 

Frequent travelers claim that packing cubes are must-have items, because they help keep clothes organized, minimize wrinkles and take up less room. They come in all shapes and sizes and are made to fit perfectly inside suitcase. Unpacking them is also a breeze.  

You can also bypass “official” packing cubes or vacuum bags and make your own by buying 2.5gallon resealable bags, packing an outfit in each one and sitting on them before sealing, to let all the air out. This is especially useful when packing kids clothes, as it makes daily outfit decisions easier. 

Dryer Sheets 

Put a few dryer sheets in the inside pocket of your suitcase to keep everything smelling clean and fresh. It makes a huge difference and avoids that musty smell that usually emerges after opening a suitcase thats been in the trunk of a car for a few hours.  

If you don’t have a sheet for the trip back, stash some mini bar soaps and scatter a few in your suitcase for a similar fresh-scented effect. 

Multi-Use Toiletries 

Instead of bringing your 10-step skincare routine on your trip, find and pack beauty items that can serve multiple purposes. An eye-cheek-lip stain in a versatile shade cuts down on makeup, just like a BB cream with SPF can replace a sunscreen and foundation. Fabric refresher can double as cologne. And conditioner makes a great shaving cream! 

How to Pack


The “roll” vs. “fold” method has been debated for quite some time, with benefits attributed to both. I’m in camp “fold” – but my sister is very much in the “roll” camp. Bottom line: it comes down to the type of fabric.  

Consider rolling thinner, synthetic fabrics that are wrinkle-prone, and folding bulky items like jeans and sweaters. While rolling does win out in making a bit more space in your suitcase, a combo works just as well.  

Considering a color scheme is also important when packing clothes, as doing so helps save space and offers peace of mind when thinking about what to wear on the trip. Dark colors (such as black, dark grey and brown) match with just about anything and don’t show stains as easily. Think about versatility and transitioning looks from day to night to help lighten the load.  

When choosing outfits to wear, pick clothes that youre comfortable in and enjoy wearing. No sense bringing uncomfortable or never-before worn clothes on your trip, if you’ll end up wearing something else 

A good tip for packing jackets is to turn them inside out, especially if you plan on wearing one during a fancy evening out. Doing so prevents wrinkling and also keeps the outside clean. 


Sneakers and dress shoes tend to take up the most space but are often necessary for business or leisurely trips. Instead of laying them flat, utilize them as containers by stuffing them with socks or scarves. This will save you some space and can also help shoes retain their shape while stuffed in your suitcase.  

If bringing multiple pairs of shoes, try to wear the bulkiest for the trip. Those boots that are super comfortable yet also take up a lot of real estate? Put them on your feet so they don’t take up room in your suitcase and you’ll be able to wear them at your destination.  

One last note about shoes: you don’t want dirty soles rubbing against your clean clothes in tight quarters. For an easy fix, get some cheap shower caps (like the ones they have in hotel rooms) and wrap them around your shoes. Problem solved. 

Delicates & Jewelry 

Elegant, layered necklaces and bracelets are beautiful and on-trend right now, but they can become an unruly mess, depending on how you pack them. Tangled necklaces can take hours to separate. This problem can easily be avoided.  

Buy some straws and thread thin necklaces through them, clasping over the straw to keep the chain from twisting around itself. Cling wrap is also really effective in keeping necklaces and bracelets together without bunching up, just make sure to secure them separately, and you’ll be good to go.  

Earrings can also be troublesome, especially when you lose a back or one earring in the packing process. Use buttons to keep them together. Just stick each earring through a hole and attach the backs, then put the buttons in small containers or zipped bags. Done. 


Sometimes it’s unavoidable to bring glass or highly breakable items on at least one leg of your trip (e.g., fine perfume or cologne, cameras, medicine, etc.) If theyre going along for the ride, theres a better way to pack them so they arrive safely and in one piece.  

Protect breakables in your suitcase by wrapping them in bubble wrap or plastic wrap (if small) and then tucking them inside extra thick socks or wrap them in scarves. Place them in the middle of your suitcase for maximum protection. Bigger items, such as cameras can be tucked inside sweaters for extra padding 


Grab some airline-approved travelsize plastic bottles and tubes for all your must-have toiletries, such as moisturizer, sunscreen, shampoo/conditioner, gels and serumsGeneric amenities are going to be no match for your favorite items from home. Dollar stores sometimes have great options. 

Be aware that anything with a flip-top or squeezable body has a tendency to burst open in transit and can cause a big mess. A great hack is to seal the bottle of liquid by placing a piece of plastic wrap under the lid. Just unscrew the top, lay a piece of plastic over the opening and re-screw. Another trick is to stick a piece of scotch tape around the cap for a double seal or to pack the bottles in Ziploc bags. Mess avoided.  

Heavy Items 

Avoid a bag that topples over by packing heavier items on the bottom, near the wheels. You can even angle things while in the packing process to ensure the bag stays in place while in rolling mode and doesn’t fall over when its stood upright. 

We hope these tips on the best way to pack a suitcase help you enjoy your next adventure. Whether you travel near or far; by car, bus or train; stay in an RV, at a camping ground or a hotel  packing a suitcase can be a less stressful task, ensuring a smooth trip.  

One last tip: be sure to reserve some space or pack an extra bag for souvenirs!  

About The Author

Sandra Lee

Sandra Lee is a blogger, amateur photographer and freelance writer for parenting publications such as Red Tricycle and Mommy Nearest. Hailing from Texas and living in the Bay Area, she writes about life with two kids, beauty finds, food and all things motherhood on her blog, Coffee in the Middle. As a bilingual Mexican and Italian woman, she’s committed to teaching her kids about diversity, the Spanish language and the love of different cultures. When she’s not chasing the little ones around, she’s either baking up something delicious, taking a yoga class or writing.

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